Presentation of the work

Vico Equense, Meta, Piano di Sorrento, Sant’Agnello, Sorrento to Massa Lubrense, touching Capri and Positano, after the success of “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century” and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”. Once again the Sorrentine writer uses the eyes, heart, thoughts, speech and feelings of someone famous in love with the coast, to indirectly enhance his inner, never interrupted bond with that extraordinary microcosm, made not only of unique and unrepeatable natural beauty, but many “small worlds” in balance with each other from the anthropological, sociological, cultural, mythological, religious and folkloric point of view. And of both peasant and town civilisation, both local and global, the latter through the leverage of domestic and international tourism with roots stretching back through the centuries. The natural and human landscape blend, penetrate and feed on each other as in a happy osmosis, allowing the writer to write exciting and moving pages of authentic poetry, such as in the reflections of the protagonist with herself from the height of Mount Comune. The protagonist is certainly the great Russian dancer, Violetta Elvin, born Prokhorova, widow of Fernando Savarese, with incredible twists and developments along nearly a century of history in her existential and artistic story. In the background one captures the always discreet but explicit profile of the Author, fascinated and almost seduced by the magnetic personality of Violetta Elvin, so much to be identified with the artist in some fundamental fragments. Just read carefully the dedication to Donna Violetta to seize not only Lauro’s admiration for a “wonderful artist” and a “brave woman”, but the four levels of reading this novel: the love of freedom, the art of dance, the incredible natural beauty of Vico Equense and the tribute to the native land of the Author's maternal grandparents.


The historical background of the human story of Violetta Elvin, as a woman and as a dancer, allows the writer to indirectly deal with the great tragedies of the twentieth century, that followed the First World War, with the roots in the two dictatorships, the Nazi and the Stalinist one, the matrices of the Second World War and the cause of millions of deaths. In particular, the daily life of the family home of Violetta, conditioned by the Stalinist regime (the risk of the Catholic baptism of the newborn girl, the rhythms of the family collective in the apartment on the Arbat Street, the progressive discovery of the true face of the bloody regime, the purges, the mass deportations, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact for the partition of Poland, the Nazi army invasion, the evacuation from Moscow, the Western acquaintances of the protagonist, the stalking of the political police, the obstacles to her career and finally the difficulties of expatriation) is intertwined with the dramatic events of contemporary history and the cruelty of a regime, which affects all types of freedom, not only to express opinions, but also the artistic freedom, the freedom to create, even to create music or dance. According to Zhdanov’s doctrine, everything has to be bent to the purposes of revolutionary propaganda and the cult of the dictator. The author manages to engage the reader in this extraordinary journey of the protagonist towards freedom: Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Helsinki, Oslo and finally London. Violetta Elvin’s love of freedom is shared and enhanced by the Author causing deep admiration. The continued re-emergence of the “KGB syndrome”, which the protagonist is suffering from, in form of the permanent anguish of being thrown back into the darkness of a dictatorship, doesn’t seem out of tune and out of time after more than fifty years.


The network of friendships with the great figures of the world of dance, first her colleagues, who later on, after her abandoning the stage in 1956, became her friends, offers to the writer the opportunity to dig deeper into these human and professional relationships, making references to major composers (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky), great choreographers (Marius Petipa, Léonide Massine, Frederick Ashton), great designers (Picasso), great female performers (Anna Pavlovna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn, Moira Shearer), and male performers (Vaslav Nijinsky, Michael Somes, Rudolf Nureyev), and the history of ballet, as well as to the cheering crowd of the enthusiasts of ballet, who more from the stalls than from the stage can influence the success or the failure of the favourites in theaters all over the world (Bolshoi Theatre, Mariinsky Theatre, Royal Opera House, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro San Carlo). Next to Violetta Elvin, as in the amazing final scene of the “dream” (the return to dance at the age of 92, “The Sleeping Beauty”, the Bolshoi), the world's myths of dance or opera come to life with their charm, their talent, their dramas, their passions, their loves and their illusions. An authentic epic of the art of Terpsichore, woven not only with applause, flowers and successes, but built from early youth with a life of sacrifice, renunciation, practice and, not infrequently, bitterness, rivalry and jealousy. Everything in the novel by Lauro serves to celebrate this important figure in the world of dance, Violetta Elvin, but also to prove the positivity of her life choice. From love of dance to love of life, to love for one person and for a land. A clear sign of lucid, almost prophetic wisdom in a woman at the peak of her artistic success, almost in her thirties, in total contrast against those who, while walking towards the sunset, pitifully, do not manage to resign from spotlight.


This novel is a descriptive triumph of the beautiful scenery of Vico Equense, a town blessed with God’s creation, which combines all the best that nature has to offer to man: the charm of the mountains, covered on their tops by a tangle of centuries-old fragrant flora, by woods, by unknown flowers and spread everywhere like a protective cover of a Mediterranean maquis renewed without respite; the harmony of sloping hills, the smile of which is revealed even to the most distracted eye in the glare of the sun or in the soft glow of the moon; the plane with its palaces and churches, which seems to slide slowly towards the furthest edge, lingering for a moment, just for a moment, in front of the spectacular Bay of Naples; the high coast carved over the centuries by the force of winds, rain water, rivers and the outflowing of waves, diving like the foundations of a Gothic cathedral in the azure depths of the sea waters, hidden, sometimes, in mysterious caves or revealed around solitary rocks. If the eye of Violetta allows to be gently led by the hand, like in a dance, by the succession of breathtaking landscapes the changing perspective of which does not allow to grasp their depth, the eye of the writer seems to want to chase the anima mundi by immersing itself in the genesis of those places and evoking the apocalyptic bubbling magma erupting from the core of the earth, rivers of fire and incandescent lava cooled and solidified by millions of years in absolutely stunning scenery, difficult to ascribe to chance! It is a short step from natural to human landscape. What fascinated Violetta and convinced her to choose the Vican land as her third home country allows the Author to go back to his family background from the mother’s side, as if to assert without ever showing to do so a nobility not of blood nor wealth, but the ancestral and atavistic nobility of man, who survived by hunting animals, became sedentary, and learned to cultivate the land, drawing from it necessary fruits for the sustenance of himself and his family.


Don Raffaele Aiello, after whom the author is named, and Donna Giuseppina De Simone, called Donna Peppinella, had thirteen children including Angela, the mother of the author. They both came from the famlies from Massaquano: the Aiello were wealthy farmers-owners with a priest uncle, highly educated and influential at the time; the De Simone, however, were more modest carpenters, artisans of wood. Don Raffaele, tall, beautiful, with blue eyes coloured of the sea, despite not having completed his schooling at the Nautical Institute “Nino Bixio” in Piano di Sorrento, presented, by the influence of the intellectual priest-uncle, good literary and in particular musical culture with a passion for melodrama and opera (he knew all the arias by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini). Donna Peppinella, semi-literate, low in stature, an aesthetic antithesis of her husband, revealed, however, as soon as one got to know her, a strong female personality, unusual for her time, with a determined and ironic character, which made her in fact the matriarchal head of the peasant family. Lauro dedicated to them the enthusiastic pages in the saga of his family written in the two volumes: “Quel film mai girato” (That film never made) (see the biography of the narrative author). After getting married the two moved with children on the way to a land destined to be cultivated, upstream of Marina d'Aequa, later to an orange grove in Sorrento and, finally, to the bottom of their land in Migliaro, above the Church of Sant’Agnello. The tribute to the land of origin of his maternal grandparents confirms in form of this work how much Lauro remains tied to his family, territorial and cultural roots.

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